Rhode Island: CTA President Dr. Lobsang Sangay visited the University of Rhode Island at the invitation of the Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies. President Sangay was greeted by Dr. Paul Bueno de Mesquita (Ph.D.), Head of the Center and the President of the University, Dr. David M. Dooley.
President Sangay spoke on the topic “Nonviolent Struggle and International Relations of Tibetan People: Peace Lessons for the World” to an audience of over a hundred, comprising of students and faculty members. He explained that he travels around the world to advocate the issue of Tibet but lamented how his visits have never been featured on the front page of newspapers because it did not involve killing, suicide bombers or guns. He said that is a challenge for non-violence and peace.
President Sangay then placed the urgency of the Tibet issue by citing the Freedom House Report which listed Tibet as the least free after Syria and Reporters without Borders that listed Tibet as more difficult to access for journalists than North Korea. He continued, “Non-violence is difficult when it comes to its practice. What would you do when foreign military army marches into your homeland and the whole of your country is occupied? When lands are exploited, trees cut and your people killed by the thousands?
“As a Buddhist, we have to believe that everybody has Buddha nature or the potential to become enlightened. Buddhism believes that everybody is inherently good and in case of a violent act, the actor and action must be separated. We condemn the act, but not the actor. The actor can be transformed and reformed to do good.”
He said that the practice of non-violence is very difficult. He then mentioned the 153 Tibetan self-immolators who did not harm a single Chinese policeman or a single Chinese property.
On the Middle Way Approach for a peaceful resolution of the Tibet issue, he said, “Through non-violence and dialogue, Tibetan people seek genuine autonomy in conformity with the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and the National Regional Autonomy law. It is a win-win proposition that the Chinese counterpart, however, decided not to accept.”
“It is, however, a matter of great hypocrisy that the Chinese leadership during the trade war between China and the US was seen time and again quoting ‘cooperation’ as the only way forward, a word that frequents the vocabulary of the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama during talks with the representatives of the Chinese government.” President Sangay exclaimed, “Where was your dialogue when it comes to Tibet?”
He spoke about his participation in the Thank you America event held in the US capital in order to express gratitude to the people and the government of the US for their support and solidarity with the Tibetan people. “And even after 60 years, Tibet is standing strong because of friends around the world.”
“Just like the Tibetans have rebuilt in exile the monasteries destroyed in Tibet, brick by brick, our non-violence cause will also prevail soon moving inch by inch. In the midst of the rise of populism, extremism and nationalism, we must keep hope alive,” he concluded.
The lecture was well received and was followed by a Q & A session. Dr. Paul Bueno de Mesquita (Ph.D.), Head of the Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies of the University presented President Sangay, the Certificate of Recognition in appreciation of and gratitude for sharing his thoughts.
-Filed by Tenzin Dechen, Communication Officer, Sikyong Office